Chad Hortsman, who has both founded and played key roles in shaping the marketing trajectory of several companies—including costume giant Yandy—is shifting his newest venture, Green Supply to fit into the current Coronavirus climate. The serial entrepreneur is turning an unprecedented business setback into an opportunity. Not only is his strategic pivot keeping the company’s team on employed, but it is also providing some of the most sought-after protective items on the market to consumers at-cost (of production and fulfillment). 

Q: What was Green Supply’s initial mission and plan—what products were going to be offered at launch?

A: Our original plan was to enter into the wellness space with organic and clean products which included nutritional supplements, and essential oils to start. Unfortunately, due to the shutdown that resulted from COVID-19, our supplier was deemed a non-essential business. This was right around the time we were going to launch Green Supply.

Q: How did you come to the decision to pivot Green Supply in a different direction?

A: Around the same time that we got the news of our supplier’s pause in production, a contact of mine, from the lingerie business, shared an opportunity with me that involved importing kN95 masks. Since masks were in high demand, scarcely available for consumers, and this specific type did not compete with the N95 masks that are required for healthcare professionals, the switch was a no-brainer.

To clarify, we’re not making a profit on the mask sale—just covering production, fulfillment, and employee costs, while also offering them for free to any essential workers in need, like nursing home employees and the police.

Q: Did your philanthropic background with Yandy, help shape your decision to provide masks in order to help people stay safe and healthy in the current crisis?

A: I feel that it’s everyone’s patriotic duty to step in and help in any way possible. And because I was able to use my skills and connections to bring what was needed for public safety to consumers—what the government was lacking—I had to step in. This was different from my past charity work, a whole other level. It’s like a war. If my business can help in this battle, we need to. Initially it was quite difficult to get the importance of mask-wearing out to the public, since there were a lot of mixed messages in the news, especially in the beginning of the outbreak. Because I truly believe that a mask can significantly reduce the spread of the virus, I would share information on my own social media about how this spreads, to try to raise awareness.